Calling Conservative Artists

Piotr Bernatowicz is the new director of a leading Warsaw art museum, the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art. For three decades it has exhibited Poland’s leading experimental artists and hosted work by “international stars,” according to this article (Alex Marshall, “A Polish Museum Turns to the Right, and Artists Turn Away,” NYTimes, 1-8-2020).

Mr. Bernatowicz says artists who do not “make work about fighting climate change and fascism, or promoting gay rights” are marginalized. He wishes to “promote artists who have other views: conservative, patriotic, pro-family.”

His plans are making the museum into another battleground in Polish culture wars that “pit liberals against the governing populist Law and Justice Party, as well as other conservative groups,” according to the article.

… Some art world figures said it will be difficult to find enough right-wing works to show. “I don’t know what a conservative artist is,” Malgorzata Ludwisiak, the Ujazdowski’s previous director, said. “If it means painting like in the 19th century — a lady on a horse — well, it’s not contemporary art.”

Mr. Bernatowicz says, “I hope within the next seven years, the situation will change.” (He has been appointed for a term of seven years — “far longer than normal.”)

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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4 Responses to Calling Conservative Artists

  1. onadanta says:

    The world is changing. Good luck to him. With all the digital art now in the world, more every day, especially with lock downs and shut ins and time on our hands I don’t think he will have a lack of contemporary art.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eric Wayne says:

    There’s so much to “unpack” here, I don’t know where to begin. The art world is such a victim of its own confirmation bias echo-chamber it doesn’t even know that not all artists have been baptized into the postmodern/social justice narrative, and many of those of us who have [hand goes up], have become disillusioned with it. What they think is experimental is hackneyed boilerplate, like Cattelan’s banana. That was DOA on protein powder. Sure, at first some people aren’t sharp enough to get it, but after a while you gotta’ be a little slow on the upswing to not smack that spitball out of the park every time.

    “I don’t know what a conservative artist is,” Malgorzata Ludwisiak, the Ujazdowski’s previous director, said. “If it means painting like in the 19th century — a lady on a horse — well, it’s not contemporary art.”

    This is that numb mindset where all artists must be political revolutionaries spewing quarter century old rhetoric that dries on the tongue before you can even get it out. She can’t even envision that there is anything other than the same old conceptual, moralizing pap appearing on a conveyor belt.

    “Conservative” is also probably not quite the right word, because it’s misleading. If you aren’t a comrade in someone else’s reductionist revolution, that doesn’t make you on the right, though it sounds a bit like Piotr really is going for the cozy conservative menu. You can “walk away” from extremist, reductionist narratives and paradigms without walking to their conservative bookend.

    Personally, I think a more conservative litmus is as bad as a far left bandwagon membership exhibition. Art is not subservient nor subordinate to politics.

    Sheer dimwittery! These are critics and directors either lost touch with reality, or never grasped it, having been spoon-fed on generations of social justice rhetoric, and the importance of embracing its conclusions, rather than learning to think for themselves. Older critics like Jerry Salz suffer from their intellects retiring before they did.

    The whole thing smells like sewer gas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      Eloquently expressed! “Art is not subservient nor subordinate to politics.” A key point, among several that you make.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eric Wayne says:

        This position, mind you, that art has intrinsic value outside of politics, and is more significant that politicizing, is anathema to the contemporary art world, which maintains that “ALL ART IS POLITICAL!”

        I have the unfortunabe benefit of having gone to a very radical, political, identity politics stronghold of an “art” college over a quarter century ago. Nothing, precfisely nothing about the narrative has changed either about art or politics. Half my life I’ve had this stuff crammed down my throat, and I consider it an oppressive force. Sorry, but at this point I am highly allergic to anything smacking of my former brainwashing into a cult (an exaggeration, but you get the idea).

        Liked by 1 person

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